A man hits a dab pen outside, by Christian Wiediger via Unsplash

Unsure of how to hit a dab pen? Or what a “dab pen” even is? Learn more in High There’s 101 guide.

How to Use a Dab Pen

High There

By High There

November 4, 2021

The chances are you’ve heard of dabbing, but might still be unsure about how dab pens actually work and how to use one. They may look complicated, but once you get the hang of it, they can be one of the most efficient ways to consume high levels of THC.

Dabbing is a more intense experience than vaping oil is, and will take a beginner some getting used to. Failing to set up or use your pen correctly could lead to a less-than-ideal vaping experience and a lot of THC concentrate wasted. Luckily, we’ve put together a definitive guide to help you, our intrepid reader, keep this from happening.

Keep reading to find out more about how dabbing pens work, how to get the most out of them, and our top recommendations!

puffco plus cannabis portable pen

How Does a Dab Pen Work?

Dab pens work by heating up concentrates on an inner coil and then melting them on a wick. After this, the dab is turned into vapor and inhaled using the pen. Dabs are more officially known as THC concentrates, and when ingested produce potent effects.

To use your dab pen, you need to load your dab onto the heating coil, turn on the power button, and inhale the vapor through the mouthpiece.

What makes these pens more complicated to use than vape and wax pens is that they require a level of previous knowledge. For example, you need to know how much dab to use and be able to thoroughly clean your wax chamber attachments after each use without damaging any of the components.

Are Dab Pens Different From Vape Pens?

Vape and dab pens can both be used to ingest cannabis concentrates, but differ in how they work. With a vape pen, vape oil is pulled through an atomizer, converted into vapor, and inhaled using the pen. They typically use pre-measured cartridges, so are ideal for those who are new to using pens and do not want to measure out their own concentrate.

Dab pens are more advanced than vapes, as the user must be comfortable measuring out their own concentrates and cleaning the various components. The two pens are alike in as much as they both produce vapor from various cannabis products, but this is where the similarities end. A dab vaporizer uses a heating dab coil and often produces more intense effects than those felt from a vape pen.

Vaporizers are perfect for someone just starting out in the vape world thanks to how convenient and easy to use they are. You can buy oil cartridges from a wide array of establishments, and loading your oil into the vape could not be simpler.

How to Use a Dab Pen: Step by Step Guide

Step 1: Choose Your Concentrate 

The first and most important step to using your vaporizer is to decide on which concentrate you want. There are many different THC products you can use, but some are definitely better than others.  

Crumble wax is a popular choice but does require more effort and experience than other concentrates. Shatter is another common option, but can also be difficult to use and should be laid on dab coils using a dab tool. Concentrates like wax and sugar are the easiest to use, and will produce a smooth vaping experience.

The concentrate that you choose will depend on your priorities. For instance, if you tend to vape on the go a lot, then you need something that can be loaded easily such as wax. Likewise, if you are using the vaporizer for a specific reason, such as pain relief, then you should make sure to pick your cannabis strains based on this.

Close up image of cannabis diamonds

Step 2: Make Sure the Battery is Charged Up

This may seem obvious, but to get the most out of your vaporizer you need to make sure that the battery is fully charged. A lot of battery power is used by the heating coil element and during vapor production. Your pen may still be usable on a low battery, but it will not deliver quality results, meaning you have wasted concentrate for no reason.

To properly charge your battery, check that it is fully connected with a 510-thread USB charger and leave it for at least a few hours. Never leave your battery charging all day or overnight, however, as this will cause your battery to degenerate over time and become weaker.

Step 3: Load a Dab Into the Heating Chamber

Loading a dab into the heating chamber of your pen takes precision and skill. To make the job easier, we highly recommend that you invest in a dab tool. Dab sticks or tools help you to handle your concentrates better, as using your hands can reduce their quality or damage parts of the vaporizer.

Placing your dab into the heating element requires you to take the components apart. Open the wax chamber attachment up, make sure the coil is working, and load a dab near or onto the coil, being careful not to touch the coil with your hands or the dab tool. After this, you can close the heating chamber back up and attach the mouthpiece.

Step 4: Enjoy!

Now that the hard part is over, you can turn on your device by pressing the power button and enjoy the THC effects! To properly use your pen, you will either have to press the button five times or hold the button down for the duration of your vaping.

Most pens will have temperature control settings, which you can adjust to suit you. Low temperatures will produce less intense hits on your throat but still deliver on flavor, while high temperatures will produce large vapor clouds and a more intense sensation in your throat.

To make sure you do not irritate your respiratory system, start with small hits and work your way up, as dabs are very potent and can hurt your lungs if you inhale too deeply straight away.

What’s the Best Dab/Vape Pen on the Market?

There are a huge variety of dab pens and vapes out there, and the best one will boil down to your personal preferences and requirements. However, there are a few indicators of quality to look out for when choosing your vaporizer.

The best wax pen will be one that comes with premium components, such as a ceramic heating chamber, an included dabber tool or dab stick and smell-proof carry case, good heat distribution, or a long-lasting battery. 

Some of our top picks include the Puffco Plus line wax vape pens and the Kandypens Crystal Wax Vaporizer. These options are discreet, simple to use, and deliver on performance, but are far from the wide array of options available (and feel free to click here for more on what we think are


Hand holding a cannabis dab pen


Can I Use a Vape Pen for Wax?

‘Vape pen’ is often used as an umbrella term for all vaporizers, including dab, dry herb, and wax. However, most vapes are only suitable for vape oil. This is because they have different connection chambers to dab or wax vape pens.

With vape pens, you will need to use a THC concentrate oil cartridge which can be loaded into the pen’s chamber. A dab or wax vaporizer, on the other hand, has been specifically designed for wax. This means wax pens can withstand the high temperatures necessary for these concentrates, provide more airflow, and be preheated before use to melt your wax.

What’s the Best Concentrate for Dabbing?

Dabs are much stronger and more potent than cannabis flowers, so making sure that you choose the right concentrate is essential. Dab concentrates tend to have about 50-80% THC, so your choice will depend on your tolerance and on how much you want to feel the effects.

The best, and most easily accessible concentrates for dabbing include wax, resin, shatter, and solvent-based extractions like BHO. All of these will deliver a smooth and crisp-tasting vaping experience and vaporize better than other concentrates.

Is a Dabbing Rig or Vape Pen Better?

Both dab rigs and vaping pens are great choices for ingesting THC concentrates but are very different from each other.

One of the key differences between a vape pen and a dab rig is size. Dabbing rigs are much larger and therefore cannot be transported discreetly. Rigs also require more equipment and need to be filled with water to avoid spillage while traveling, making them more inconvenient.

Rigs are usually used by those who prioritize powerful hits, as vaporizers cannot compare to the strength of a rig. Besides this, pens are a smart choice due to their portability, ease of use, durability, and discretion.

dab pen
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